The Transitions that Matter: commentary series launch
The word transition is a familiar one within social care, usually used to refer to the move from children to adult care services. This is known to be a critical and problematic juncture, with a lack of connectivity and resultant gaps in support.
Chatting about transition with the University of Birmingham’s Lived Experience Panel – comprised of people with experience of using social care services – it was clear that for them too the word was associated with the problematic move from children to adult services. People saw transition as something done to them by the state.
When the conversation shifted to talking about life transitions more generally, we got onto broader meanings of the word. Some people talked about a change in support arrangements as a service closed or a personal assistant (PA) left. Often these changes were forced on people, and the change created emotional as well as practical challenges. Katy Evans writes about this for the Transitions that Matter series, reflecting on the emotional labour of recruiting a new PA.
Other forms of unexpected and often unwanted transition included a health diagnosis or deterioration, or a crisis leading to a shift in support requirements. Often these kinds of transition brought a dual challenge: coming to terms with the new reality and then battling to get appropriate state support.
People also talked about blocked transitions: the way that reliance on hard-won care services made it too risky to move house, or a lack of support and inclusivity made it impossible to access education and employment.
The Covid-19 pandemic was another kind of transition that people talked about: a long period of uncertainty, isolation and service limitations, many of which continue to be felt over two years later. This was a society-wide transition, although one whose harmful effects were disproportionately felt by marginalised groups, including disabled people.
In the ‘Transitions’ strand of the ESRC Centre for Care we are exploring all of these forms of transition, in dialogue with people with lived experience about which transitions matter, why and how. The aim is to understand the role of transitions across the lifecourse in shaping people’s experiences of care and their wellbeing, and how these can be improved.
In this series
Catherine is Professor of Public Policy and Public Management at the Health Services Management Centre, University of Birmingham. She is leading research on care systems as part of the Centre for Care and is also a member of IMPACT, the UK centre for evidence implementation in adult social care. She tweets as @DrCNeedham.
Chloe is a Research Fellow at the Health Services Management Centre, University of Birmingham, and is a Fellow of the NIHR School for Social Care Research. She specialises in qualitative and theoretical inquiries into the politics of care, particularly focussing on the experiences of children and the impact of inequalities. Chloe tweets as @chloealexander0.